Former Prime Minister Helen Clark backs #WaterOnlySchools campaign

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark is backing a campaign to encourage schools in New Zealand to ban sugary drinks and go 'water-only'.

"Sugary drinks are the main source of sugar for our children, so just by doing this one thing we could do a tremendous amount," Ms Clark said.

She joined The Project on Monday evening to explain why she's backing the show's #WaterOnlySchools campaign.

"I have a big interest in public health promotion, and non-communicable diseases like those that come from being obese and overweight are taking a huge toll on our health bills and on our personal health," Ms Clark said on The Project.

"So anything that can be done to get sugar consumption is a good thing."

The issue of sugar was on her radar while she served as Prime Minister. In 2007, her Government issued guidelines to schools advising them that they could not sell junk food and drinks.

"Unfortunately, not long after the election - which we were defeated at - the regulation was removed and the drinks came back... that condemns our children to a lot of ill health," Ms Clark said.

"If the children are hyped up with sugary drinks, they're not as likely to concentrate and they won't learn as much."

Ms Clark said New Zealand children are regarded as the third most overweight out of all developed countries, and our health budget will be overwhelmed if we don't get on top of the problem.

Newshub.